Dusk reminds me of being at Thana. When I say Thana, it only means one thing. It means being at my aunt’s house on the Thana main road. Yes, that house with the peacocks.
When my mom needed to run errands during the day, and there were no baby sitters around, we’d be dropped off at Thana. It was always fun being dropped off at Thana especially when my nephews, who were around my age, were home on break.
Of all the dusks of my childhood, the only mental snapshot I took was while sitting on that black vinyl couch by the floor to ceiling window with the black grills in front of the side verandah. The sound of bus horns peppered the evening noises of the mosque prayers and commuters rushing home.
My nephews weren’t home on break that day. I don’t think my brother was there either. I was dropped off by myself. All I remember is sitting on that couch, probably with a book nestled in my hands. Books were my closest friends as a child.
And somewhere mid reading, just like that, I must have taken that mental snapshot that has stayed with me all these years. That is what dusk is to me. It’s the Thana bus horns honking away.
That is where I got transported as I stare at the sun shining a bright orange, as I sit high above the clouds in this dimly lit cabin. I’m not transported to an image of a sunset. I’m transported to a time and place when I experienced a sunset where all my relevant senses were satiated.
Where there was a beach last week, there is none today. The waves are almost up to the rocky embankment that was likely built to keep the lapping suds at bay.
Isn’t the ocean so fascinating? Of how the waves are so relentless in its pursuit of chasing each other to the sands. At times its haste is so much that it climbs over the one in front of it, not worrying about hurting its friend. For they are all waves. They merge into each other. Becoming one. Rushing to the shores.
That is the only goal. Meet the sands.
The journey or the destination.
They’ve clearly made the choice.
And in their rushed journey, they’ve found one another.
The journey or the destination?
There is no clear answer.
Sometimes, on days like today, when the sea is overflowing upon itself, they reach for the rocks.
Teasing us with a threat… a threat that maybe one day, it will clamber over the rocks. And consume us.
It wasn’t at least 3 or 4 years until after I started running that I felt comfortable calling myself a runner. “I’m not running, I’m just jogging”. “I’m too fat to be a runner”. So many insecurities kept me from embracing the identity of a runner. I was also afraid that if I called myself a runner, people might judge me “oh look at her – she calls herself a runner and she’s still doesn’t look fit”.
It wasn’t until I read a blog post that said “if you think you’re running, and you do it consistently, you’re a runner, dammit” that I decided to embrace the identity of a runner. This statement had a profound impact on me in my early 20s. I’m a runner, dammit.
I recently started reading James Clear’s “Atomic Habits”. A point it drives across is embracing your identity based on your goals. If your goal is to become someone who reads books, as a first step, start reading. But more importantly, start calling yourself a book reader. You will find yourself naturally embracing the identity of a book reader, and reading more books. On the contrary, if you keep referring to yourself as someone who would love to be a book reader, you’ll always find yourself trying to be someone else, which in turn makes your goal harder to attain.
It’s amazing how the idea of calling myself a runner and embracing that identity has translated into so many avenues in my life. As a woman in tech, who has been in the industry for 12 years, I will tell you this – you will always run into folks that might have some pre-conceived notions of what it means to be a woman in tech and how you got there. I was involved in some “water cooler talk” with a senior male Engineer (and a good friend!) recently, during which he said “you just have to be a female straight out of bootcamp and you don’t even have to be good – startups are just waiting to hire you”. I instantly felt defensive and felt the need to defend women in tech. I know he didn’t mean any malice intentionally, and that makes it all the more difficult a problem to solve!
When you run into conversations like these (which I would call a microaggression), it’s not a surprise that women might feel inferior and questioning themselves for their accomplishments. With each promotion/raise there is that nagging question “am I really here because I’m good, or… am I here because they needed a diversity hire”.
Let me tell you, ladies – you’re there because you damn well deserve it. Please embrace your identity and start calling yourself an Engineer (or Product Manager or UX designer or whatever you’re a rockstar at). If a company is paying you good money for your git commits and your expertise, you’re an Engineer, dammit.
Once I started calling myself an Engineer, once again, that translated into so many avenues in my life. I mounted a set of curtain rods using a drill – the mantra that kept me through the whole process was “Bavitha, you’re an Engineer, dammit. You can do this”. I mounted a 65 inch TV all by myself. Again, I told myself “Bavitha, you’re an Engineer. You can do this, dammit”.
Start embracing the identity of the person you want to be and you’ll see how it affects all aspects of your life.
I am an Engineer, a Musician, a Writer, a Runner, an Atheist, and a People Lover. What is your identity?
all the little stories that went unwritten until now